Sunday, January 20, 2013

My Anti-Romance Stance

I couldn't find a way to link to it but on Goodreads I read a review Jane Litte (from Dear Author) did about a book where the hero threw out casual misogynist statements and the heroine would become quiet when he did but still lust after him.

Do normal women lust after men who don't really like women?

It reminded me of my first Harlequin experiences. I had somehow signed up for a monthly Harlequin book club, oh, many years ago. I received (if I remember correctly) three HQ books a month. At the time they were all similar in that the heroines were all British, all young, all working for older somewhat brutish men who treated them badly and then at the end of the book professed their love. The heroines were all spineless and confused and I hated them. The heroes were assholes and I hated them.

I didn't remain in the book club for long because I obviously had a hate-on for most of what I read. But it created a rich and textured fantasy of a book I wanted to read:

The hero is a Harlequin brute. He accuses the heroine of heinous deeds and being too sexually sexual. Yet he punishes her with punishing kisses and odd groping. She really doesn't like it and so she begins to avoid him. She changes her phone number so he can't call. She moves to another state. She becomes successful in her career and has a good life.

Then something happens and the brute finds her and needs her to save the ailing business (something their fathers started together or you know....). His solution is that they'll get married and he'll take over the business and she'll be his wifely doormouse. She tells him to go to hell. He acts like a Harlequin brute.

She ends up stealing the business away from him by being a better businesswoman and doing things right. Then she marries his kind younger brother. And the next time he tries to punish her with a kiss she knees him in the groin.

God, I feel better having written that.


  1. Hehehehe...

    To answer your question... no. Well, speaking only for myself. But I think far more goes on in regard to attraction for women than is usually expressed in romance. I suppose authors think the overt physical lusting is sex-positive, and perhaps it is, but a lot of women just don't work that way.

    When I say I'm most attracted to sense of humor and intelligence, it's not bullshit, it's the truth.

    My husband was just telling me about a kind of kinky photo site he saw, where all the women showed their full selves but all the men just took shots of their crotches. He was baffled by this, because why would anyone just want to look at a crotch? I couldn't explain it to him. I might enjoy looking at a crotch, but a random one without a face...?

  2. Oh my good lord, yes!

    Mind you, I'm one whose introduction to the romance genre was The Sheik (talk about brutish and abusive).

    And yet, at odd moments, I'll be struck by the "why on earth does she put up with that shit?" feeling.

    The most recent examples are the last two of Nalini Singh's Psy/Changeling novels--which I enjoyed very much, by the by. I would read about Hawke and Riaz being all "no, I can't be with you, I don't want you" and I would think, "okay, then, fuck you and the horse you rode on in"--and then wonder why the fuck Sienna and Adria would even give the assholes the time of the day the next time they saw them.

    Mind you, Nalini Singh made me buy it--particularly with Sienna--but I still spent a whole lot of time wondering, why do these women put up with this shit?

    I guess more women than we would like to accept do put up with this shit.

  3. Funny you mention Singh, AztecLady, because I'm listening to Angels' Blood right now and was just struck by a scene in which Elena's sexual attraction to Raphael goes blooey when he's "quiet" (basically taken over by his worst inner self.) I thought that was cool.

  4. I also, coincidentally enough, just read The Sheik. Quite a story! I think I would have enjoyed it more when I was younger -- the racism and sexism are hard to swallow.

  5. I just read a chick lit book called Finding Infinity and the hero constantly criticized the heroine for how she dressed, how she spoke, her past and what she did.

    Then he got engaged to another woman, slept with the heroine, afterwards said "oopsie", then later with his fiancee in the next room he put the moves on the heroine...

    Okay, I wanted to see both women kick him in his little balls and demand a respectful man.